Is it the smell of fear, or the fear of losing credibility that brings Quentin Tarantino and CSI together?

Essentially a two-part episode of the veteran crime investigation series, Grave Danger is a hybrid - neither traditional CSI, nor essential Tarantino. For one thing, he didn't write the script and that's what he's good at. He thought up the story (so full of holes, you could walk Whistler's mother through it) and directed (except for a lapse in the middle, when everyone is hanging about, the pace is taut).

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One of the CSI team, Nick Stokes (George Eads), is kidnapped at a crime scene. When you think about it for the second it takes to swallow your disbelief, this could not have happened. But, it does. Is anyone bothered? This is TV, remember, not the Cannes Film Festival.

Nick ends up in The Vanishing, (a marvellously intelligent Dutch thriller, pointlessly remade in Hollywood with Keifer Sutherland) three feet underground in a Perspex coffin. He doesn't die immediately, because the deranged hijacker has provided pumped air through a pipe, but does have panic attacks, which, if you are claustrophobic, is tough to watch.

The team, led by the now bearded Gil Grissom (William Petersen), who takes himself so seriously you want to stand up and salute, is baffled, which is something you have never seen before in CSI - someone should have told Quentin, "They don't do baffled; they are too smart for that." - before the $1miillion ransom is demanded. After this, the plot implodes and the only thing of interest is wondering whether the delightful Marg will have anything to do and what would happen if you confiscated their torches? Would the whole thing grind to a halt?

There is a bizarre dream sequence, in which the CSI pathologist cuts up Nick's still living corpse, which looks like an outtake from Kill Bill, and a bafflingly bad final scene, which adds absolutely nothing to the already shot-to-pieces storyline. It appears that Tarantino needed the money and CSI needed the exposure in a special one-off DVD.

It's a win-win, you would have thought. Not really, because there is the audience to think about.

The who?

Reviewed on: 09 Oct 2005
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CSI Grave Danger packshot
Quentin Tarantino at the helm of this Vanishing kidnap mystery.
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Director: Quentin Tarantino

Writer: Naren Shanker, Anthony E Zuiker, Carol Mendelsohn, based on a story by Quentin Tarantino

Starring: William Petersen, Marg Helgenberger, Gary Dourdan, George Eads, Jorja Fox, Paul Guilfoyle, Robert David Hall

Year: 2005

Runtime: 84 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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